Hi hi People,
I’m praying you are all well and keeping safe!
A big thank you for staying with us on this journey so far and a huge welcome if this is the first piece you are reading. Don’t miss out on all the gems we’ve dropped in the last two weeks in parts 1& 2 – we’ve touched on insecurity and self-compassion so far.
Last week Tami led us down a passage to self-compassion and there was so much to be gained. Cultivating a habit of being self-compassionate can guide us through so many situations in life and really help us to change our perspectives from crippled to caring. I know I took so much from last week, especially the self-compassion affirmations. Have you gone on to practice those or have you started creating your own ones? If you have not, then get started. Please and thanks x
In keeping with the purpose of The Self Series, today’s piece is all about you focusing on you, and just you. We’re going to need our skills of self-compassion to brace us for the realisation that this piece may bring. I want us to think about competition today, particularly competition with ourselves as opposed to against others.
When thinking about our achievements we can appreciate them when we are doing well, however when we consider the areas in which we feel we aren’t flourishing, we resort to different ways to soothe this sense of disappointment. Linking back to last week, where Tami touched on Downward Social Comparison, keeping note of other people’s shortcomings and our successes is a way for us to feel superior or better about ourselves, as a result, it helps us to soothe the disappointment in ourselves.
What this brings to mind for me though, is that naturally we all have an element of competition navigating our sense of self. This competition is always usually attributed to other people.
How often do you find yourself measuring your accomplishments and value against other people’s?
Is competition against others a big driving force towards you working hard?
Do you compare and contrast yourself with your neighbour, and constantly strive to be better than them?
In automatically thinking about competition, some individuals get pumped, they feel driven and it can even stir up motivation. Whereas, on the flip side others feel defeated, shy and pressured. There is no correct way to receive competition, for so long as you can flourish through circumstances and the outcomes get you what you want.
Competition isn’t bad and I want to make that profoundly clear, it’s all a matter of perspective.
However, what I feel we need to consider is how effective constantly being in competition with others really is. To what degree is consistently working to be better than the person next to you really aiding in your self- development?
I can tell you for free, it is not.
In truth only a small part of being competitive against others will be useful for you and that is that it highlights something you want, or something you think you want.
I (Eni) remember a time when I was so fixated on winning. I wanted to be the best at everything and if I wasn’t then I had failed. I would look at people doing things and even if I didn’t like it, I wanted to be the best at it, just so I could say I was. LOL, reading this now it’s sad to even admit and as you can guess, yes I was very unhappy.
Competition has a direct link to comparison.
In the example above, the act of comparison came as easy to me as breathing did. Thank God for growth! But that took time and is still something I have to work on till this day.
Remember in Part 1 when I said “The saying “Comparison is the thief of joy” isn’t just a renowned saying by chance, think deeply about this and consider what you may be stealing from yourself.” Yeah go and write that down! Because it is the truth! Constantly being in competition with others only steals your joy away from you. It sets you up to feel undervalued, underachieving and unappreciated. You keep focus on where you lack and not on what you have. You literally quash any spirit of contentment or satisfaction.
In the times we are living in, where social media consumption is at an all time high, and now being in QUARANTINE, QUARANTINE QUARANTINE … we have more time to scroll on Instagram and Twitter, we are endlessly taking in information that we rank at a standard and just giving ourselves more people to make competitors in our minds.
The problem with this is that if you are looking at these images/ people as things that are ‘important’ to you; things you want to get or things you want to achieve, instead of using these as inspiration you may register them as competition. They become something to beat, surpass or even be equal to. You may find yourself saying things such as “I need to get this, but the better version; I need to look better than them, they ain’t even that nice, I’m nicer or I can do that, they didn’t even do it that well” or just resorting to being ‘bad vibes’ and ‘hating’, if these thoughts or similar are familiar to you, I can say the healthy competitive spirit is not in you… yet. I hope by the end of this you feel prepared to make the change to healthy competition.
The big problem here is that when you compete with these images, or with other people, you are marking yourself by their metrics and values, not yours. Many of us are disillusioned by other people’s values. Meaning that what we see, becomes the influence for measuring our standards, values and worth. This way of living can never bring happiness or success that you can be proud of, because it will always be at the expense of your true self. When you ‘win’ in these situations you are only serving other people, because you did something that is important to them, not you. It’s easy for us to do this, but easy has not always been right.
That’s why the only competition you should have is yourself.
“I’m my own competition, I’m competing with myself” – Cardi B
That’s the key to live our best life 😉
Life shouldn’t be a race against other people. Rather the real competition is only against yourself, your set goals and your untapped potential. When looking in the mirror the only opponent that should be acknowledged is the one looking back at you. Instead of focusing on outdoing the next person, place your attention on chasing your future and better self and this will keep you in check.
I listened to an acceptance speech by Matthew McConaughey (actor) and he said he chases his hero, ten years in the future. The hero is himself. Due to this, he is constantly striving to work harder and better than his current self, but the marker is always him. When I heard this, I thought how admirable, but more importantly how sustainable. When you make yourself your marker, you can trust it will be reliable and attainable. People can be too fickle to want to ground your values in them, everybody’s mind will change, so why would you base your value and worth on something that can shift?
With all of this being said, this not to say do not draw inspiration from others, having role models has always been a great example for achieving goals or journeying through a process. However, the first step in being inspired or knowing your role model is knowing what you, yourself want. How can they inspire you if it is not in accordance with something you already believe in?? Challenge what you consider inspiration, there will be more on how to do this below.
So you’re probably thinking, well do you have Eni advice (pun intended lol), or what can I do to make myself my only competitor?
Below are some steps I feel could be taken;
Steps towards Self- Competition:
- Know your morals, standards and values
The importance of this is that is guides everything you do. Every goal you make should be in line with these. So when you do find you slip up and do begin competing or comparing, it will be a lot easier for you to analyse whether what you are comparing yourself to even matches your values or standards. You will be able to spot whether it is in line with your goals.
“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”- Matthew 12:34
- Visualise what you want for yourself
Visualising what you want for you creates perspective, it gives you your metrics and sets your standards. It gives you the power of being in control of how you achieve these things and it forces you to learn more about yourself.
“Competition whose motive is merely to compete, to drive some other fellow out, never carries very far. The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.” – Henry Ford
- Define competition for you personally
Know what competition means for you and be watchful of what it drives you to do.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy
- Healthy motivates it does not match, it inspires it does not imitate, it promotes growth it does not compare.
- Being anything but you is a disservice to your life and so I would encourage you to only compare to your capacity.
- Unhealthy is
jealous, envious and ugly, it belittles and is bitter.
“My only competition is the person I was yesterday” – Unknown
- Be intentional with your inspiration & challenge it
- It’s fine to have role models, but remember what I said above.
- Make sure your role models are positive – they need to influence you in a positive way.
- Note what you like about them, whether that be their work ethic, morals, presentation, and then note what they do that you would do differently. (I don’t believe in putting others down)
- Set realistic goals and review them often
Set yourself BIG, MASSIVE & HEART-FLUTTERING GOALS
I say this because a vision worth having often scares you and this can evoke the same emotions competitions have, where it drives you to work hard for the win.
- But break them down into small, attainable short-term goals this should keep you always focused on you. There is no time to watch others when you are doing what needs to be done, for you sis (sis is a gender neutral term, ok?)
- Your goal should encourage you, not defeat you.
- You should make yourself the marker for your goals, ask yourself questions about where you are, is it in accordance with where you plan on heading if not, review them.
- Reward yourself
I don’t need to tell you how to enjoy yourself, so please, do this after each of your accomplishments. Rewards are positive reinforcement, it promotes the incentive to continue.
These are just a few steps that can aid in containing your competition, if you can think of any others I would love for you to share them in the comments box below, or with myself or Tami on socials.
In the meantime, understand that things take time, you cannot compare where you are now with where it appears someone else is. You can however, keep your eye on your lane and keep your goal in sight.
Your processes are different to other peoples’, that is why you are you and they are them. Comparing and competing against others is unfair. Moreover, when you are truly focused on you, it is no longer about the competition, it’s about you. It’s about how far you can push yourself.
Know that every step of the way in your journey, you are enough as you are.
So, I want to leave you with you. I want you to run your race, at your speed and with only yourself as the competition. Be careful to not live in competition with other people, this is fuelled by fear of defeat and is psychologically damaging, it can leave you feeling stressed, dissatisfied and miserable, no one should live life that way. We (Eni & Tami) definitely do not want that for you, so apply these steps above and revisit this blog whenever you need a reminder.
Take care and I hope this helps!
Lots of love Eni & Tami x
(Written by Eni)